Sitting atop the amplifiers, two bouquets of flowers furnished the stage for Japanese Breakfast and Porches.  

They were nearly identical, but the same thing can hold a multiplicity of meanings – and the meanings of flowers (it’s called floriography apparently) is particularly ample. Flowers convey a range of emotions and functions from funereal to purely aesthetic. And so they did at the Sinclair last week for Japanese Breakfast’s jangly, dream pop romp and Porches’ hyperaesthetic, polished rock-installation.  

Michelle Zauner (of Philadelphia-based Little Big League) recorded Psychopomp as Japanese Breakfast after her mother’s death. A sonic celebration of life, the album is ethereal, hazy, and really, really good.

“In Heaven,” a dream pop stand-out saw Zauner bouncing across the stage before launching into “The Woman That Loves You,” a dark, new-wave jolt that quickly mutated into the nu-disco repetition of, “Oh we’ll stay together for the weekend honey, for the weekend babe.”

Despite flat vocals on “Rugged Country”, strong harmonies and driving, juvenile rock, reminiscent of Mitski’s Bury Me At Makeout Creek bailed Zauner out. Elsewhere, Japanese Breakfast channeled the gothic emotion of the Cure and made their inspirations clear with a well-done cover of the Cranberries’ “Dreams.” But the treacly jangle of “Everybody Wants to Love You,” with its ad nauseum hook, quickly got old despite Zauner’s rambunctious energy.

To the perhaps intentional choice of Rihanna’s “Needed Me,” Aaron Maine and Porches emerged. In the wake of the critically acclaimed Pool, Porches has asserted its music’s currentness through fashion and performance.

They’ve positioned themselves perfectly, always one safe degree of separation away from being truly “out there.” In their recent Urban Outfitters-sponsored “Car” music video, the entire band’s synchronous, undulating hips are framed by plants, pedestals, and pink and blue lights, a series of cultural symbols that predate yet create the Porches aesthetic.

As they did in April at the Middle East, Porches began with “Glow,” a bass-driven song that ended with an amateurish, uncharacteristic guitar solo. Aaron Maine’s big guitar sound on “Forgive” reasserted a sterile, desexualized 80s guitar tone, but Porches these days is not a guitar-rock band.

The layered, expansive yet contained synths of Pool dominated with few nods to Porches’ past: the Cosmos crowd-favorite “Headsgiving” and the deep track “Daddies,” a real sad sack Bandcamp anthem with poignant lyrics (“You look so pretty and I look so mean/On the night we filled our bodies with amphetamines”) that are equally poetic and “that’s so real”-evoking for the young, left-of-alt crowd.

Maine mostly paced, mumbled banter, and moved his hips left to right. After nonsensically gesticulating his way through “Pool” with hand motions tenuously (at best) linked to the lyrics, and donning a cowboy hat while doling out flowers to his bandmates, he announced, “The next song is sweeping the world, sweeping the state, sweeping the nation…it’s massive.” Though it was a hyperbolic introduction, “Be Apart” is a gorgeous single, augmented by even greater live dynamics and tempo changes.  

But the set was not without foibles. “Black Dress,” from the recent Water EP, was uneventful. And an awkward cover of Alex G’s “Walk” transformed Giannascoli’s loose, slacker rock into an almost prog-sounding melody. Maine’s introduction to the song seemed to last just as long as the short instrumental that would have served better in a medley than as a standalone cover.

Porches vacated the stage without an encore and the crowd dispersed to buy ephemeral cultural artifacts (like Porches shirts emblazoned with “Dark Muscle”). Only the flowers were left behind.

Two Bouquets: Porches and Japanese Breakfast
Pros
  • Japanese Breakfast's romp
  • Porches' well-groomed performance
Cons
  • Few oldies from Porches
  • Minimal crowd work
8Overall Score

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